What if the end of a service was as desirable as the start?

In this short article we’ll share with you some highlights from the talk that took place on Tuesday 28th February 2023, co-organized by the HSLU MA Design programs and the Swiss Service Design Network Chapter.

The Absurdity of How Services End

Imagine this: you build the house of your dreams, so you take out a mortgage that you slowly pay off for years. During all these years, your banker checks in from time to time to see that all is good. They might even help you out with an additional loan to fix that darn garage door.

After many years, your house is truly your own. You’ve paid your mortgage in full. Sounds like something to celebrate, right? That’s a big milestone!

For you, maybe, but for the bank, no. They just send you a last letter. That’s it.

Compare this to how much time and energy the bank invested at the start of the relationship. There was nearly some seduction going on.

What this story shows is that service creators, product creators, and organizations have become masters at designing the onboarding phase, but often almost forget to create an offboarding phase.

In his talk, Joe shared many examples of how broken the end of the relationship with our products and services is.

Questions That Help Us Rethink Our Relationship with Ends as Service Designers

But there is hope.

Imagine this:

  • What if we spent as much energy designing the ends as we do designing the services or their onboarding?
  • What if the end of a relationship with a service was as desirable as the beginning?
  • What if stopping use of a product didn't create waste?

These are all questions that help us rethink how we usually design products, services, and experiences.


Frameworks to Create Meaningful Offboarding Experiences

There is hope for creating a more meaningful offboarding experience. Many smart people have developed frameworks and conducted research to help us design better endings. During his talk, Joe mentioned a few of these frameworks:

  1. Terror Management Theory: by Ernest Becker, and the subsequent experiments done by Kasser and Sheldon in 2000.
  2. Role Exit: by Helen Rise Ebaugh.
  3. Cognitive Closure by Donna Webster and Arie Kruglanski.
  4. Emotional Design by Don Norman, including his work on Reflective Design.
  5. Mood Memory by Penelope A. Lewis and Hugo D. Critchley.
  6. Peak End Rule by Daniel Kanheman.

You can become an "endineer" too

To learn more, read Joe's two books on the topic of designing ends (Ends, Endineering), or join his next online course cohort.

Get notified of the next events

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Thank you

A big thank you to the HSLU MA Design programs for hosting this lovely event, the attendees for their smart questions, and to Joe Macleod for sharing his knowledge in such a brilliant way.

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